Health and Fitness

Brodie Meets Brody, Episode 2: Maintaining a Healthy Lower Back

This is the second functional fitness film of the "Brodie meets Brody" series, where world-class exercise physiologist, strength and cycling coach Menachem Brodie (NSCA-CSCS, USAC-PBT) teams up with Senior Fitness Trainer, Health Coach and Nutritionist Rabbi Lazer Brody (CHC, CPT, CHN) to show how both women and men can maintain a healthy lower back at any age. Most important, we learn how to avoid the day-to-day back injuries the come from improper lifting and learn the right way how to pick up a baby. A must-see:

Brodie Meets Brody: Maintaining Muscle Mass

We are delighted to present our debut functional fitness film of the new "Brodie meets Brody" series, where world-class exercise physiologist, strength and cycling coach Menachem Brodie (NSCA-CSCS, USAC-PBT) teams up with Senior Fitness Trainer, Health Coach and Nutritionist Rabbi Lazer Brody (CHC, CPT, CHN) to show how both women and men can maintain muscle mass at any age, whether they're in their thirties or in their eighties.

Unifying the Unified

BnB Screenshot
Menachem Brodie and I really are family - we're from the same Burde/Broida family from Grodno (depending on history, sometimes Poland, sometimes Belarus, sometimes Lithuania). just when our respective grandfathers came to the USA from Europe, the immigration clerk on Ellis Island translated and spelled the name as he saw fit - the result, different clerk, different spelling.

The last two years in Israel have been socially terrible, with unprecedented infighting as a result of the political impasse and mudslinging. That upset us far more than the bombings from Gaza.

The two biggest powers of unification I know of are emuna and physical fitness. Combine the two and you have an unbreakable spiritual weld. If I'd be in a gym with a trainer from Syria, we'd right away have a common language and be teaching and learning from each other. And, putting religion aside, if I would talk about having a personal relationship with Hashem with anyone on earth except a self-declared atheist, we too have solid common ground to build on.

Menachem and I want to shatter stereotypes to help people feel better and be happier. Yesterday, we filmed several clips including exercise for beginners, overcoming back pain and healthy eating. Menachem, a master sports physiologist and world-renown strength and cycle coach, knows his stuff. With Hashem's help, I demonstrate technique and show how body and soul are inseparable, and both must be taken into consideration for good health. For example, massive biceps don't help much if a person is depressed. In addition to holistic health and wellbeing, we want to show that generation gaps and social gaps, especially between the more observant and the less observant, are not necessarily a fact of life. Respect the other person, let him or her exercise their Divine right of free choice as long as they don't hurt anyone else, and remember that ever since Mount Sinai, we're all one nation anyway. In that aspect, our new series "Brodie meets Brody" is simply unifying the unified. We look forward to sharing this new instructional series with you in the nearest future, G-d willing, so don't miss it.

Body-Soul Harmony

Body-Soul Harmony
People who don't know me often say, "Hey, you don't look like a fitness trainer! Why don't you stick to being a rabbi?"

Two answers to the above comment: First, I'm not a YouTube trainer who wants to show his my six-pack abs and flaunt what he can do but what you can't. Second, what much of the rabbinical world either ignores, forgot, or never learned, coaching people in physical well-being is an integral part of spiritual leadership. Look at these prime examples from our sages:

  1. Our forefather Jacob out-wrestled an angel. He lifted boulders that ten shepherds together barely lifted.
  2. Each of Jacob's 12 sons was an expert in martial arts (see Malbim of Parshat Vayichi).
  3. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, who was both a juggler and a gymnast who could do pushups on his thumbs alone (see tractate Succa 53a)
  4. Rebbe Shimon ben Lakish (Reish Lakish) could broad jump the Jordan River; in addition, he was a former gladiator who was deadly in hand-to-hand combat.
  5. Maimonides was an expert in physical fitness who even codified the principles of health, nutrition and fitness within religious law. 

My health and wellness approach is rooted in the timeless health advice of the Rambam, which promotes harmony of body and soul, the truest form of holistic health. What good is a perfect figure or 21" biceps if you suffer from anxiety and depression?

In my years of athletic experience, training in all different types of sports from running to weight training to wrestling and combat arts, I went through a vicious cycle of approaching what I thought was my peak fitness, then suffering a big setback of an injury or flu. I was repeatedly burning myself out rather than building myself up. Even while learning to become a fitness trainer and health coach, most of my teachers were teaching me the same methods that didn't lead to the results I was looking for.

"True fitness is the optimum state of body-soul well-being..."

With Hashem's help, I came to the conclusion that true fitness is the optimum state of body-soul well-being, when physical and emotional ills disappear and a person functions at his or her best. This is opposed to the person who wins the marathon, then spends the next two weeks recuperating in the hospital. With body-soul fitness, your goal is not to run the 42 kilometers, to build the massive triceps or to become the aerobic-dance queen who is so carbo-starved after her workout that she eats twice the carbs that she burned. Your goal is to feel good so that you can serve Hashem more efficiently and happily...

Genuine holistic fitness is functional fitness. Functional fitness means that you function effectively: despite your age, you can run, walk, climb and lift as you need to. It also means that your body is free of disease and your soul and emotions are free of their diseases - worry, anger, anxiety, worry, depression, jealousy and other negative emotions.

My holistic approach, which I share with my readers free of charge on this blog and on our EmunaBeams podcast, addresses diet, disease prevention, exercise and lifestyle, and above all emuna, the pure and simple faith in the Creator that nourishes the soul and results in the epitome of fitness, the true  balance of a healthy body in perfect harmony with a healthy soul. Blessings for a splendid summer and splendidly good health.